South Bend-based Holladay Properties on Monday told the Westfield City Council that it plans to spend $25.5 million to build three speculative distribution buildings in NorthPoint Industrial Park.
In return, Holladay is seeking $2.7 million in tax abatements from the city to offset some of its development costs.
Chris Wilkes, senior vice president for Holladay, said his company lost six potential new tenants in the industrial park along U.S. 31 and East 196th Street because the companies needed new space faster than a building could be built. That’s why Holladay is planning to build three buildings totaling 333,500 square feet in the park over the next year even without securing tenants.
“All three buildings are distinctive in size and shape, and we feel like they appeal to a distinctive part of the market we’re trying to capture,” Wilkes said.
NorthPoint Industrial Park opened in 2018, with its first tenant, Bastian Solutions, a Toyota Advanced Logistics company, moving into the 140,000-square-foot NorthPoint building. Gordon Food Service and Abbott Laboratories committed to moving into 500,000- and 120,000-square-foot buildings, respectively, the following year to round out the park’s “big three” occupants.
In addition to big tenants like those, Holladay wants to draw more local companies to the park, like Westfield-based specialty contracting firm Browning Chapman, which opened a 65,000-square-foot office and warehouse building in NorthPoint in 2019.
“While the big three are noteworthy, the vast majority of the business we’re trying to attract are in that smaller scale,” Wilkes said.
Holladay’s plans call for a 182,500-square-foot, $13 million warehouse on 15 acres just south of 202nd Street; a 96,000-square-foot, $7.5 million warehouse on 11 acres just north of that location; and a 55,000-square-foot, $5 million warehouse on 5 acres closer to State Road 38.
Wilkes hopes to finish the northernmost and southernmost buildings this year, then to complete the middle building by spring 2022.
“Other communities in Hamilton County are doing this, and it has been effective,” Westfield Council Member Scott Willis said of the speculative approach. “It’s a bit out of the box for us, but it certainly makes sense with where that market is at.”
Monday’s presentation was just the first step in the process; the request is slated to be reviewed by the council at future meetings. It’s there that some concerns voiced Monday night might be addressed.
Council member Cindy Spoljaric said the broad range of commercial uses allowed under the zoning for the properties could allow for something like a drugstore to be built there—and that’s something she wouldn’t want to support with a tax abatement.
“When we don’t know who the end users are, providing abatements makes me nervous,” she said. “That does give me pause.”
Correction: This story has been corrected to say Gordon Food Service has not yet moved into its facilities. You can see all of our corrections here.